Hermione found herself at breakfast that Saturday, hating how early she was up. She hadn't managed to sleep well the night before. She had worked herself up. And she'd finally given up on resting much around five that morning.
She stirred her porridge, carefully mixing in brown sugar. She wasn't sure that she liked it as much as some of the other options, but it was the only thing she could stir other than her tea. And she liked her tea enough that she'd already finished her cup.
She hadn't yet decided if she wanted another. Mostly she was just watching her porridge as she stirred, watching the brown sugar create streaks as it mixed in. Eventually she took a bite. It was sweeter than she normally liked, but not bad.
She wasn't going to head down to Hogsmeade until the much more reasonable hour of half past eight. Which left her about two hours to kill. She sighed and stirred her porridge again before taking another bite. It was going to be a long morning.
It took her about half an hour to finish her porridge and pour herself another cup of tea. Half an hour, but she still had an hour and a half before she felt she could head off. Viktor likely wouldn't even be up yet, for all that Bulgaria was two hours ahead.
She wished that she had brought a more interesting book than the one in her bag. It was a book about giant wars in the middle east. Apparently the biblical story of David and Goliath was a bit more magical than anyone in the muggle world had admitted. But it couldn't hold her attention.
Around quarter past seven, Malfoy wandered into the great hall. He looked exhausted. Dark shadows were visible under his eyes even across the great hall. His hair fell in his face. He must have been up all night.
Hermione pulled her book out of her bag, and opened it. It would be better to stare at it and read the same sentence a few times than to be staring at Malfoy. He wasn't worth the time and effort that Harry and Ron put into watching him.
She had read two sentences, about three times each, and finished her cup of tea when Padma came in.
"Long night?" she asked.
Hermione closed the book and sighed. "I'm not nervous. I just couldn't sleep."
"Tell me about it," Padma said. "I still can't believe I'm going on a date with Neville Longbottom. Granted, I asked him. But still."
Hermione shook her head, a small smile creeping up onto her face. She wouldn't have thought that Padma would have been nervous. To her at least, it was obvious that Neville liked Padma. Padma had nothing to be worried about.
"You're not worried, are you?" she asked.
"That Neville likes me, no. I've suspected as much for a bit. But I'm nervous that I won't act the way that he wants to. And then, no matter how he feels about me, he won't want to be with me."
Hermione reached out and squeezed Padma's hand. "He's bound to be nervous himself. He's a great guy, but you asked him out. While your feelings on the subject might not be so clouded, he has a lot of insecurities about himself."
It was true. Ever since before first year, Neville had been timid and soft spoken. But that didn't make him any less friendly. And if he thought you were worth sticking up for, it was sometimes scary to watch him.
"Thanks," Padma said.
"No problem." Hermione had another cup of tea, biding her time. Eventually she felt comfortable enough leaving the castle and heading down to Hogsmeade.
She waited patiently for the first carriage. She was anxious to see Viktor, and knew that he would want to see her. Neither of them was thrilled with the long-distance relationship, but they were making it work. And weekends like that were the best part of the whole situation.
She tapped a pen against her left hand all through the carriage ride. She didn't even notice that she was doing it. She just tucked it behind her ear when she arrived, more out of habit than anything else.
She practically ran out of the carriage and into Viktor's arms.
"Looks like you vere anxious to see me," he said pressing a kiss to her lips.
"What makes you say that?"
He held up his hand, covered in lots of tiny blue dots. Hermione hadn't thought about that. She pulled out her wand and vanished the ink.
Viktor kissed her. "Nothing to vorry about. I vas vanting to see you too."
Hermione leaned into him. His embrace felt like coming home. And she didn't want to spend any more time than she had to anywhere without him.
Padma read her book, fascinated by the implications the arithmancer had written. She wasn't sure that you could use arithmancy to predict future outcomes, but there were statistics that did similar things in the muggle world. Perhaps it wasn't that farfetched of an idea.
"Good morning," Neville said as he sat down across from her.
"Morning," Padma said. "I wasn't expecting you for," she looked at her watch "well now. Guess I got a little caught up in my book."
"It's alright. I know you do that. So does Hermione. You get used to it after a while."
"Yeah, but today is about you and me spending time together. I shouldn't make you feel like you have to fight for my attention," Padma almost whispered.
"Hey," Neville took her hand, "why don't you tell me about your book. Then we'll take a carriage to the village and see what we want to do."
Padma nodded and launched into a detailed explanation of arithmancy applications and all the theoretical purposes that should be tested out. She also tried to describe the narrative style of the book and convince Neville that he should read it when she was done.
She didn't quite manage that last bit. Neville simply shook his head and said that he would rather read about plants than numbers. Padma found it silly to not want to know everything, but Neville was smart and dedicate. And she would tell him everything she learnt anyways.
She talked until Neville was done eating, and then they both talked on the way down to Hogsmeade. The conversation slowly shifted from the applications of arithmancy to the principles of runes. And what that meant for a certain friend of theirs.
"I mean, they're practically married already," Neville argued.
"As true as that might be," Padma said, "you know that Hermione is going to want something a little more traditional than just runes. Even if in the eyes of the ministry they're as good as married already."
"I don't think it's just the ministry's eyes," Neville said.
"I don't think her parents would be so comfortable with her relationship with him if they thought they were already as good as married," Padma countered.
"His parents are probably more open to that idea than hers are," Neville said.
Neville was talking about the way that purebloods often had their children marry early. The fact that Hermione was still in school wouldn't have mattered much to them. And Hermione was already seventeen, which was of age in the magical world.
"Either way, they are engaged now. And whatever they're doing is working for them. So, I guess we shouldn't worry about them."
"You did ask me on a date," Neville agreed. "We probably shouldn't spend the whole time talking about Viktor and Hermione."
They changed the subject to the idea that water that fell on the night of a full moon being better for certain plants than regular water.
"Aconite, being the main plant in the wolfsbane potion, shouldn't be watered with moon water," Neville said. "It decreases the potency of the potion, agitating the wolf."
"But that can be counteracted if the plant is strong enough."
"And aconite is a strong plant already. Besides, since wolfsbane potion doesn't stop the transformation it isn't the best idea to do anything that could stir up the wolf."
"I guess you're right," Padma said. "I don't like it."
Neville had to suppress a snicker. "You just don't like being wrong."
Padma rolled her eyes and gently elbowed Neville. He was right, she hated being wrong. But he didn't need to say it.
A/N: So I wanted to focus on some other characters. I don't know how great it is, but I'm sick of staring at the computer screen for this. Hope you guys like it.